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Charles Kennedy

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Norway Opens New Arctic Oil Blocks For Exploration

Norway is offering 136 offshore oil and gas exploration blocks in the Barents Sea and the Norwegian Sea, the country's Petroleum Directorate said today.

recently published Resource Report 2020 showed that substantial undiscovered resources remain in all areas on the NCS. In the 25th round, the companies will have access to acreage that has not been available in the annual APA rounds so far," said NPD's Director for Exploration Torgeir Stordal.

"The announced acreage features a broad range of exciting plays that, so far, have not been extensively explored," he added.

Norway's oil and gas exploration activity slumped this year as the pandemic savaged oil markets, with the NPD reporting last month that energy companies were to drill just 30 exploration wells offshore Norway this year. This was half the number of exploration wells drilled in 2019 and the lowest number since 2005.

"Without new discoveries, oil and gas production could decline rapidly after 2030. New exploration technology and big data analyses can contribute to more discoveries on a mature shelf", NPD's Stordal warned at the time.

Even so, research from the country's statistics authority suggested investments in new oil and gas drilling this year were going to be higher than they were in 2019. This was attributed to higher oil prices in early 2020 as well as the government's relief package for the industry.

For 2021, however, investments are expected to drop from the currently estimated 2020 level. Still, the estimate for next year is now 2.1 percent higher than in the May survey, according to Statistics Norway.

The deadline for companies to apply for exploration drilling under the 25th licensing round the NDP announced this week is February 23, although the authority is urging interested parties to submit their applications earlier. The licenses will be awarded by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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